Wednesday, March 03, 2010

River Running

As usual, along about the end of February, I find myself musing about things to come. I become a little less present as I plunge my thoughts and emotions into the upcoming fishing season. As the snow begins to melt and trickle from seemingly flat surfaces towards the lowlands of increasingly bulging creeks and rivers, I notice the new swiftness and I can't help but feel the urge to do a little river running.

It's the nature of rivers to drop in elevation over distance. That is, of course, how they flow. Some relaxing and beautifully meditative rivers drop consistently with few or no surprises. I love to travel these wonderful rivers because they give me the opportunity to play with friends or trail a fishing line or lean back in my canoe and contemplate something important or nothing at all. This is the nature of most of the rivers I travel in Michigan.

Many of the rivers I travel further north, into the Canadian Shield, are not gradual. These rivers pool and drop and pool and drop, keeping me ever alert. The deep pools of swirling water are where I often find the fish. I love these rivers for their energy. They lift me up and move me forward at sometimes breakneck speeds. The canoe goes forward, up and down, right and left and side to side all at the same time. My paddle becomes a rudder and a brace, slowing and turning me as the conditions demand. My arms hurt. My back is rigid and my butt and legs are an extension of my craft, using body language to direct me. And then it's over too quickly and I'm bobbing on riffles, heading towards calm water where I once again must use my paddle to move forward. Sometimes these rivers even force me to stop and get out of my canoe, wary about a drop I might not be able to navigate.

I don't prefer one type of river over the other. They are both special. It's the variety that is important to me. Moving forward at a steady pace, as in the case of my Michigan rivers, is delightfully energizing in the way a nap rejuvenates me. Moving forward in a chaotic way, shaking things up and amplifying the adrenaline, as in the case of my Canadian rivers, energizes me in the same way a good brawl gets the juices flowing.  

It's March and it's time to rumble! See you on the river or on the bank. Your choice. But I'm not waiting. 

"All rivers, even the most dazzling, those that catch the sun in their course, all rivers go down to the ocean and drown. And life awaits man as the sea awaits the river." ~Simone Schwarz-Bart

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and the river runs through it." ~Norman Maclean

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